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The Solow Productivity Paradox in Historical Perspective

  • Crafts, Nicholas

A growth accounting methodology is used to compare the contributions to growth in terms of capital-deepening and total factor productivity growth of three general-purpose technologies, namely, steam in Britain during 1780-1860, electricity and information and communications technology in the United States during 1899-1929 and 1974-2000, respectively. The format permits explicit comparison of earlier episodes with the results for ICT obtained by Oliner and Sichel. The results suggest that the contribution of ICT was already relatively large before 1995 and it is suggested that the true productivity paradox is why economists expected more sooner from ICT.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3142.

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Date of creation: Jan 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3142
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  1. Paul M Romer, 1999. "Increasing Returns and Long-Run Growth," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2232, David K. Levine.
  2. Karl Whelan, 2000. "Computers, obsolescence, and productivity," Open Access publications 10197/244, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  3. Dirk Pilat & Frank C. Lee, 2001. "Productivity Growth in ICT-producing and ICT-using Industries: A Source of Growth Differentials in the OECD?," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 2001/4, OECD Publishing.
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  10. Paul A. David & Gavin Wright, 2005. "Early Twentieth Century Productivity Growth Dynamics: An Inquiry into the Economic History of “Our Ignorance”," Macroeconomics 0502023, EconWPA.
  11. Romer, Paul M, 1990. "Endogenous Technological Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages S71-102, October.
  12. Devine, Warren D., 1983. "From Shafts to Wires: Historical Perspective on Electrification," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(02), pages 347-372, June.
  13. McGuckin, Robert H & Stiroh, Kevin J, 2001. " Do Computers Make Output Harder to Measure?," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 295-321, October.
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  15. M. Blaug, 1961. "The Productivity Of Capital In The Lancashire Cotton Industry During The Nineteenth Century," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 13(3), pages 358-381, 04.
  16. Paul Schreyer, 2000. "The Contribution of Information and Communication Technology to Output Growth: A Study of the G7 Countries," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 2000/2, OECD Publishing.
  17. Dale W. Jorgenson & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2000. "Raising the Speed Limit: US Economic Growth in the Information Age," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 261, OECD Publishing.
  18. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2000. "Beyond Computation: Information Technology, Organizational Transformation and Business Performance," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 23-48, Fall.
  19. Jack E. Triplett, 1999. "The Solow productivity paradox: what do computers do to productivity?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 32(2), pages 309-334, April.
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